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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2018, Vol. 17 Issue (04): 747-754    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(17)61789-1
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Maize-soybean strip intercropping: Achieved a balance between high productivity and sustainability
DU Jun-bo1, HAN Tian-fu2, GAI Jun-yi3, YONG Tai-wen1, SUN Xin1, WANG Xiao-chun1, YANG Feng1, LIU Jiang1, SHU Kai1, LIU Wei-guo1, YANG Wen-yu1
1 Sichuan Engineering Research Center for Crop Strip Intercropping System/Key Laboratory of Crop Eco-physiology and Farming System in Southwest China, Ministry of Agriculture/College of Agronomy, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130, P.R.China
2 Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, P.R.China
3 National Center for Soybean Improvement, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, P.R.China
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Abstract  Intercropping is one of the most vital practice to improve land utilization rate in China that has limited arable land resource. However, the traditional intercropping systems have many disadvantages including illogical field lay-out of crops, low economic value, and labor deficiency, which cannot balance the crop production and agricultural sustainability. In view of this, we developed a novel soybean strip intercropping model using maize as the partner, the regular maize-soybean strip intercropping mainly popularized in northern China and maize-soybean relay-strip intercropping principally extended in southwestern China. Compared to the traditional maize-soybean intercropping systems, the main innovation of field lay-out style in our present intercropping systems is that the distance of two adjacent maize rows are shrunk as a narrow strip, and a strip called wide strip between two adjacent narrow strips is expanded reserving for the growth of two or three rows of soybean plants.  The distance between outer rows of maize and soybean strips are expanded enough for light use efficiency improvement and tractors working in the soybean strips.  Importantly, optimal cultivar screening and increase of plant density achieved a high yield of both the two crops in the intercropping systems and increased land equivalent ratio as high as 2.2.  Annually alternative rotation of the adjacent maize- and soybean-strips increased the grain yield of next seasonal maize, improved the absorption of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potasium of maize, while prevented the continuous cropping obstacles.  Extra soybean production was obtained without affecting maize yield in our strip intercropping systems, which balanced the high crop production and agricultural sustainability.
Keywords:  maize        soybean        strip intercropping       high production        agricultural sustainability  
Received: 06 April 2017   Accepted:

These studies are supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31401308, 31371555 and 31671445).

Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence DU Jun-bo, Tel: +86-28-86290960, E-mail:; YANG Wen-yu, Tel: +86-28-86290960, E-mail:   

Cite this article: 

DU Jun-bo, HAN Tian-fu, GAI Jun-yi, YONG Tai-wen, SUN Xin, WANG Xiao-chun, YANG Feng, LIU Jiang, SHU Kai, LIU Wei-guo, YANG Wen-yu . 2018. Maize-soybean strip intercropping: Achieved a balance between high productivity and sustainability. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 17(04): 747-754.

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